As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, there are so many messages that one can take hold of. There are also a preponderance of symbols which mark the New Year. One of the most famous is the Shofar (Ram’s Horn). Blowing the ram’s horn or shofar on Rosh Hashanah comes directly from the Torah/Old Testament.. There is a commandment that on the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei) “you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts.” These loud blasts were understood to allude to the blasts of the shofar. There are a number of reasons that are indirectly given as to why we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. Rabbi Saddia Gaon, a famous commentator from Egypt, listed 10 reasons why the shofar is blown. Three in particular can really speak to those in recovery, those struggling with addiction or those who are impacted by addiction; 1) the beginning of the new year 2) the Mt. Sinai experience 3) the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
The beginning of the new year is a natural fit. Newness allows us to reset and move forward and not stay stuck in the past. As we know, we can’t go back one second let alone a week, month, or year. By blowing the shofar, we are reminded of the beginning which allows us to reset. In 12 step programs people receive something for their yearly sobriety. It gives them an opportunity to look back on the past year and see where the successes and failures were. What needs to be strengthened and what is on solid ground. The shofar can remind an addict or anyone of what they can do to continue to improve moving forward in the upcoming year.
The second reason from Rabbi Gaon deals with Mt. Sinai. There is an idea that the shofar integrates the spiritual and physical as it comes from an animal and was the very sound that was given at Mount Sinai when the Israelities received the 10 Commandments. Becoming sober from physical addictions starts with our spiritual well being. It is almost impossible to become sober without tapping into your spirituality. Our goal in this world is to integrate the physical with our spiritual and in turn to elevate the physical into something spiritual. Whether you see yourself as a physical being having a spiritual experience or a spiritual being having a physical experience, one must tap into their spiritual side to navigate the road ahead. Whether one is a struggling addict or a person trudging the road of life, we know the importance of integrating our physical, spiritual, mental and emotional components to be successful in everything that we will experience on the long and winding road.
The third reason that Rabbi Saddia Gaon mentioned for blowing the shofar, the destruction of the Temple, is a great reminder for addicts. The destruction that our addiction inflicted upon those around us needs to be subtly reminded. No one lives in a vacuum and everything we do has an impact on those around us. Whether it is a loss of a job, emotional neglect towards those we love, financial destruction, physical scars that have or haven’t healed or anything else. The addiction caused chaos. One does not need to live in a place of guilt or perpetual suffering but, it is important to have a reminder once in a while of the consequences of our actions. This can speak to anyone, not only those that have struggled with addiction.
Whether one celebrates Rosh Hashanah or not the symbol of the shofar can relate to all of those that are working on their sobriety.
Soberman's Estate is a residential men's addiction treatment center that provides discreet, individualized, sophisticated recovery and wellness services for adult men that want to recover from substance use disorders, and or other behavioral issues such as trauma, anxiety, depression, stress, or other addictions.